|by Joe Leo, Columnist||December 3, 2006|
CompUSA, the #3 major electronics retail chain which specializes in computer-centric sales--as opposed to Best Buy and Circuit City who offer computers as a sub-department (though CompUSA seems to be following in their footsteps by doing the opposite and offering home electronics like LCD TVs as their sub-department)--was the only official place to find Macs at retail before the retail Apple Store was born in 2001.
CompUSA, as most people are aware of, has an Apple shop within their store-- a special section dedicated solely to Apple hardware, software, accessories, along with non-Apple third party Mac products. (It remains to be seen whether the two competitors' offerings, Best Buy and Circuit City, will be on par with CompUSA's if the new partnerships are successful and continue longer than they have in the past).
Fry's Electronics--another major electronics retail chain, though not widely available across the nation as the other three--also currently carries a complete line of Mac hardware, and like CompUSA, has co-existed with Apple and has a special section in their store dedicated solely to those products along with third-party accessories. (At press time, we could not find historical references to when Fry's partnered with Apple).
In an interview with Kevin Chen, an employee at the CompUSA store in Emeryville, CA, it seems that the relationship between the two companies has fared well, even with Apple's own retail stores now currently at 167 globally, 149 here in the U.S. alone.
Apparently so, since this particular CompUSA store is just down the road from an Apple Store in the same city.
According to Chen, who has worked for CompUSA for two years now, this doesn't hurt either company nor mar the relationship they have, especially with two of each company's stores located so close to each other at his location. Chen says, "Sometimes we recommend customers go to Apple, sometimes they do the same (Apple directs them to us)."
But isn't there just a little bit of competition. A teeny bit?
"We try to recommend our store as better than the Apple Store because we offer more than just Apple products and our Mac accessories, like [third party] RAM, are cheaper," says Chen. He also informs us they were doing price matching with Apple on "Black Friday"-- a logical move which only makes sense (unknown if their store locally, or the entire chain nationally).
However, Chen mentions that they have one thing Apple doesn't. "Since CompUSA sells both Macs and PCs, we have both points of view. Not just one side," he says.
When asked if Apple tries to push a product more than the other--trying to ascertain whether Apple is pushing sales of iPods in order to cash in on the so-called "halo effect"--he says that Apple doesn't tell them what to sell. When asked if any product sells more than the other Chen tells us that all products sell equally.
"The customer determines what we sell through their purchases," Chen says.
The recent resurgence and popularity of Apple and all things Mac has been attributed by analysts and market watchers to, the iPod "halo effect," saying that iPod sales supposedly steer consumers who have iPods, but are not currently Mac users, to lean toward that direction due to their overall satisfaction and "ease of use" factor with said product.
CNBC reported last Thursday that current data shows that sales of iPods are directly influencing Mac hardware sales--most of them notebook computerrs--which have seen a sudden increase in only recent months.
With Apple's hardware products expanding their presence beyond just iPods at the national retail sector (outside that of Apple's own retail stores) and reports last week of Mac hardware and iPod sales flying out the door, this holiday shopping season only spells good times for Steve Jobs and Cupertino in the year to come.
IGM.com, "Apple-Best Buy: It's Official" (11.14.06)
MacDailyNews.com, "Apple Macs Now Available at Circuit City" (9.25.06)
MacNN.com, "Apple Expands Best Buy Presence (2006)" (5.31.06)
ThinkSecret.com, "Apple to End Best Buy Pilot Program (2004)" (3.8.04)
AppleMatters.com, "11/8/97: This Day in Apple History"
MacObserver.com, "2/1-2/17: This Week in Apple History"
Wikipedia.org, "Apple Store (retail)"
ifoAppleStore.com, "News and Information About Apple Computer's Retail Stores" **
**(an interesting piece on the history of the Apple Store along with
references to Apple's efforts at retail over the years before that)
"Going, Going, Gone" (April 3rd, 2002)-- when Apple ended a previous partnership with Circuit City back in 2002, PBCentral.com (known then as PowerBook Central) was there to report all the lowest prices available on Macs at the store. Circuit City agreed to sell their remaining inventory of Apple hardware after their partnership ended, leading to deep discounts on Macs (we assume at their expense, not Apple's)--deals such as a $1,000 iMac going for $549, and a $1,200 iBook going for $750--which many readers discovered right on this site, as reported by Ian Friedman of CNET.com (link via ZDNet.com) in April of 2002.
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